People Living With Disabilities need inclusion, empathy, not pity – Akinrinmade

Founder of Hope Builders For The Physically Challenged Foundation, Dr. (Mrs.) Christiana Kehinde Akinrinmade has called on the government to come to the aid of physically challenged Nigerians. Akinrinmade in this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, in an event to commemorate the International Disability Day 2023 with the theme: Transformative Solution For Inclusive Development: The Role of Innovation In Fuelling An Accessible and Equitable World, wants inclusion and empathy for the physically challenged and not pity. According to her, the Local Government which is the closest to people living with disabilities has not provided enough support for the group. Excerpts:

What do you think is the perception of people to people living with disabilities in our culture?

People believe when you are visually impaired that is the end and that is a negative perspective about visual impairment. They believe that you can’t do anything successfully but we are trying to change the story that we can overcome our challenge, that in our challenge there is victory. We overcome it through our contribution and through our potentials. We are unveiling our potentials that we are assets to our different families and not liabilities.

Your organisation has empowered a lot of people living with disabilities, how cooperative are they with your organisation?

They are very cooperative because we always look at how we can partner with different organisations, government agencies, philanthropists, individuals that can assist people living with disabilities on education, inclusion, vocational education and to unveil the potentials in us.

Before this event has this organisation got any form of support from the government?

We have been doing all these programs based on my own contribution, family and friends and well wishers. We have never received any contribution from any government whether state, local or federal government. We have written to them but all proved abortive and there was a time I was even given an award by Lagos State through the ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment. I was only given an award to appreciate my impart on entrepreneurship of people living with disabilities but thereafter, nothing, no fund was attached to it.

Since you started, how many people have you been able to train?

I have trained over 3,000 in different skills. I’ve trained them how to make foot wears, how to make bags, belts, I’ve trained some on fabrics, hairdressing, different skills, how to make shawama, barbecue, catering etc.

When did you start this initiative ?

I started five years ago.

What intervention would you want from the government, corporate organisations and the Local Government which should be more interested in what you are doing?

My appeal to them is that they should come to our aid. The Local Government even wants me to contribute certain amount to them before they can assist. They said they want part of their contribution from the NGO. I told them I’m not getting money from anybody but they still want me to contribute money before I can be recognised as a foundation.

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Are the people you have trained making positive use of their skills?

The people we have trained are making use of the training only that we need more fund for them to be more confident.

What is your massage to the physically challenged out there, the government, corporate bodies on this special day?

My message to the the people with disabilities is that no matter what they are facing they should go for rehabilatin to overcome their challenges, not by crying, not by weeping, not by commiting suicide. They should be committed to unlock their abilities, they should let the world know there is ability in disability.

We have some graduates among the people living with disabilities, do you know how many of them that have been employed by the government?

Only about 5℅ of them have been employed and we need more of them to be employed. At least 50 percent of them should be employed and we need more, they should assist.

Your final message to the government and people who can help?

My final message is that they should assist, we need help, we need support, we don’t need sympathy but empathy so that we will be more productive and reduce poverty and be able to cope among able bodied persons to compete with others anywhere we find ourselves.

Do you have a figure of people living with disabilities in Lagos State?

Well, I can not say the total figure because we are many, like in my own cluster, we are over 500 and if we want to look nationally, I can say we are up to 5 million in Nigeria.

 

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